Thank you very much for your interesting question.
I started by trying to put myself in your shoes, assuming not being a
?stamp person?, and wondering how to get reliable information about
the collection you inherited. Thus, my search strategy focused on
finding one or more organizations devoted to this subject. This kind
of institutions is often the reliable path to find information and
guidance on how to proceed. So I did a first Google search on the
words: philatelic association America.
This search led me to the American Philatelic Society
(http://www.stamps.org/index.htm ). In their home page it reads:
?serving stamp collectors since 1886?.
In the section called ?Estate Advice?
(http://www.stamps.org/Services/ser_EstateAdvice.htm ) there are
useful recommendations for inexpert people who have happened to have a
collection. I strongly suggest that you visit this page. The following
may directly apply to your case:
?If you have inherited a collection, we urge you to learn about your
stamps. For example, find a stamp catalog at your local library and
look up your stamps in the catalog to determine their value. This will
help you to understand what you have and you will also get some
pleasure from the stamps.?
Thus, a visit to the local library might be a good first step to
orientate yourself about your material.
A further step would be an appraisal. Let?s see what the APS have to say about it:
?When a collector dies, a formal appraisal of his collection is often
required to determine its true value for estate tax purposes. An
appraisal may be sought at any time for personal reasons.
?Stamp appraisals require detailed examination combined with a high
level of technical philatelic knowledge and market savvy. (?) not all
stamp dealers are qualified to offer this sort of service. Before
taking a collection to a dealer for an appraisal, please phone to make
sure that he is able to do the appraisal for you.
?Appraisals can be expensive. Some firms charge a flat hourly or daily
fee, plus expenses if travel is required(?)?
There?s more to this page that you can take profit from, than what I?m
able to quote here, like brief descriptions on methods for selling
stamps, as well as related services for APS? members.
The APS also offers an expertizing service for a fee
?This service has been offered by the American Philatelic Society
since 1903. It encourages the expertizing of questionable material and
promotes the certification of genuine items for the benefit of future
To find out about this service you can contact:
Director of Expertizing
at contact form page http://www.stamps.org/TheAps/requests_expert.htm
Actually, all the staff contact information is available at
I also recommend you reading the page About the APS
The APS is located at:
100 Oakwood Ave.
P.O. Box 8000
State College, PA 16803
Now, understanding that you are requesting specifically about a
collection of Swiss stamps, I did another Google search upon the
phrase: ?Swiss philatelic societies?. From that search I selected the
website of the ?American Helvetia Philatelic Society? (Affiliate No.
52 of the American Philatelic Society), after them ?the largest group
for collectors of Swiss stamps outside Switzerland. The current
organization dates from 1975 but traces its lineage back to 1938, when
six Swiss and three Americans founded the original Society for
Collectors of Switzerland in Philadelphia.?
Among their activities they offer you the possibility to:
?Ask an Expert
?Click here (firstname.lastname@example.org) to email an inquiry --
anything about Swiss philately! -- to one of our knowledgeable
members. Of course he may forward your query to another member who
may be better equipped to answer. Please note that this is not an
expertising service giving certified expert opinions; this is just one
collector doing his best to answer a question from another! You don't
have to be an AHPS member to send an inquiry.?
They offer you the email address of many of their officers:
President; William Lucas; email@example.com
Vice President; Harlan Stone; firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary and Librarian; Richard T. Hall; email@example.com
Treasurer; Harry Winter; firstname.lastname@example.org
TELL Editor; George Struble; email@example.com
Auction Manager; Gordon Trotter; firstname.lastname@example.org
Webmaster; Bruce Marsden; email@example.com
There?s also available at their web page the web address of other
interesting related organizations (I do not include the APS? that you
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schweiz; http://www.arge-schweiz.de
Helvetia Philatelic Society (Great Britain); http://www.swiss-stamps.org.uk
Swiss Postal Stationery Collectors Club; members.tripod.de/sgsv
Swiss Post; http://www.post.ch ,
Union of Swiss Philatelic Societies; http://www.vsphv.ch
Finally, you?ll find contact information for dealers in Swiss philately:
P O Box 15
Harrogate HG1 1SL, England
Fax: 00 44 1423 564210
P O Box 5123
Coralville, IA 52241
Nutmeg Stamp Sales
P. O. Box 4547
Danbury, CT 06813
Hans P. Walser
P O Box 754/T
8630 Ruti, Switzerland
Phone: 011 41 55 240 44 31
Fax: 011 41 55 260 34 09
Additionally, I?ll post the web address of a quite comprehensive
directory of links to philatelic organizations throughout the world,
several in America?among which, maybe, one near your location?that
might eventually be useful for you: http://www.stamps.net/society.htm
I hope the information provided prove useful for you. However, I?m at
your disposal for any clarification that you may find necessary. Thank